Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
The Small Home, Big Decisions series follows Jennifer and her husband, Tyler, as they build a self-reliant homestead on a piece of country property in northeastern Kansas. The series will delve into questions that arise during their building process and the decisions they make along the way. The posts are a work in progress, written as their home-building adventure unfolds.
May was not an especially productive month when you review our home-construction timeline plans. In our area of Kansas, we received more than 9 inches of rain during a time period we would normally receive closer to 5 or 6 inches of precipitation. We aren’t really supposed to say it after suffering through years of drought, but the rain made Tyler and me (and we’re going to bet our contractor) pretty miserable. Just when we were going to pour the cement for the garage floor, the rain would start again. When the rain wasn’t falling, either the ground was too saturated for the trucks to drive on the property to bring the cement in or the subcontractors had already been scheduled to work on another project. We had our basement walls poured in April, but for the entire month of May, the only visible progress was the delivery of a pile of sand. Our home-construction timeline had to be adjusted, and then pushed back, and then adjusted again. Factors like weather are some of the realities that must be dealt with when building a new home.
We decided we could stay positive and productive if we looked at later steps in the home-construction process. We thought we would get a head start on decisions and purchases we would have to make eventually — we just jumped forward on our timeline a bit. While progress was stalled at the construction site, we selected plumbing fixtures, had initial meetings with our cabinetmaker, started selecting tile for the kitchen and stone for the thermal mass wall behind our woodstove, and began the process of picking wall colors.
Just this week, we got word that the basement floor and garage floor were poured. In the photo above, you can see the poured basement floor (bottom level, right) and the poured garage floor (top level, back left). When we heard the floors were done, we, of course, rushed out to see how it all looked – and were delighted to find that some of the back-fill work had already been completed, too. The next steps are to finish the back-fill around the foundation and then start framing the walls. While I’m prone to hyperbole, I wouldn’t say our elation is much less than that of “Mr. Bliss” in this video (scroll down), which documents a scene during his epic hike to Antarctica when he came upon a buried food stash and some chocolate bars. You have to wait a minute to hear the best part, but it’s worth it.
Photo of recently poured cement floors by Jennifer Kongs.
Jennifer Kongs is the Managing Editor at MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine. When she’s not working at the magazine, she’s likely in her garden, on the local running trails or in her kitchen instead. You can connect directly with Jennifer and Tyler by leaving a comment below!